With a staff of some 5,500 people working out of over 190 different sites and offices, Southwark Borough Council is deploying secure remote access to provide more flexible working, speed up bureaucratic processes and paperwork and reduce office space.
This includes working from home, mobile working and hot desking; but to make sure only authorized staff have access to sensitive information, Southwark is using a secure two-factor authentication service provided by Cambridge-based Signify.
Social Services in Southwark already uses the service for full electronic case recording; so that all forms and reports can be completed and filed electronically without heading back to the office.
Other applications range from providing access to emails through a simple web browser to delivering a full set of applications from a Southwark-managed laptop, giving users the same working environment as if they were sitting at their office desks.
And to provide even greater flexibility, the Council is trialling a mobile broadband solution using T-Mobile 3G cards so that work can be done literally on the move.
For example, this will mean that the Home Improvement teams can file assessments and maintenance requests instantly.
This shift to flexible working takes another major step next year when the Council moves into new offices that will have 1,800 desks for 2,100 staff.
"There are major benefits to both the Council and its employees by providing more flexible working options and with people moving around so much, it does not make sense for everyone to have a desk," said Richard Heap, Business Partnership Manager at Southwark Borough Council.
"But with staff working from home or in the field, we can not rely on using simple passwords to log into personal client files and a secure two-factor authentication solution is essential."
Signify provides Southwark staff with a small RSA SecurID token - usually carried on a key ring - that produces a new unique one-time passcode (OTP) every 60 seconds. By using this, along with their known user name and secret PIN, Southwark staff can safely gain immediate access to the information they need.
"Using Signify's managed service means that they handle everything from dispatching devices and rights administration to handling lost tokens or forgotten passwords," says Richard Heap.
"It's simply a no-hassle solution and Signify's Identity Management Centre (IMC) web portal also allows us to enforce security policy, add or remove users and provides full reporting and auditing information."
"Southwark is a great showcase for demonstrating the potential of secure remote access for public authorities," says Dave Abraham, CEO at Signify. "We are working closely with Serco, who provide outsourced and managed IT solutions to Southwark and other major private and public sector organisations, to meet the growing demand for more flexible and secure home and mobile working."